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The NBER Patent Citation Data File: Lessons, Insights and Methodological Tools

Author

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  • Bronwyn H. Hall
  • Adam B. Jaffe
  • Manuel Trajtenberg

Abstract

This paper describes the database on U.S. patents that we have developed over the past decade, with the goal of making it widely accessible for research. We present main trends in U. S. patenting over the last 30 years, including a variety of original measures constructed with citation data, such as backward and forward citation lags, indices of 'originality' and 'generality', self-citations, etc. Many of these measures exhibit interesting differences across the six main technological categories that we have developed (comprising Computers and Communications, Drugs and Medical, Electrical and Electronics, Chemical, Mechanical and Others), differences that call for further research. To stimulate such research, the entire database about 3 million patents and 16 million citations is now available on the NBER website. We discuss key issues that arise in the use of patent citations data, and suggest ways of addressing them. In particular, significant changes over time in the rate of patenting and in the number of citations made, as well as the inevitable truncation of the data, make it very hard to use the raw number of citations received by different patents directly in a meaningful way. To remedy this problem we suggest two alternative approaches: the fixed-effects approach involves scaling citations by the average citation count for a group of patents to which the patent of interest belongs; the quasi-structural approach attempts to distinguish the multiple effects on citation rates via econometric estimation.

Suggested Citation

  • Bronwyn H. Hall & Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg, 2001. "The NBER Patent Citation Data File: Lessons, Insights and Methodological Tools," NBER Working Papers 8498, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8498
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bresnahan, Timothy F. & Trajtenberg, M., 1995. "General purpose technologies 'Engines of growth'?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 83-108, January.
    2. Manuel Trajtenberg, 1990. "A Penny for Your Quotes: Patent Citations and the Value of Innovations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 172-187, Spring.
    3. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-598.
    4. Hall, Bronwyn H. & Jaffee, Adam & Trajtenberg, Manuel, 2000. "Market Value and Patent Citations: A First Look," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt1rh8k6z2, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    5. Adam Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg, 1999. "International Knowledge Flows: Evidence From Patent Citations," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(1-2), pages 105-136.
    6. Jean O. Lanjouw & Mark Schankerman, 1999. "The Quality of Ideas: Measuring Innovation with Multiple Indicators," NBER Working Papers 7345, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    JEL classification:

    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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